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March 5, 2014, 7:23 AM

Lenten THoughts


In the 70’s folk/pop music group Seals and Crofts had a big hit called, “Get Closer.”  It went “Darling if you want me to be closer to you, get closer to me.”  True this was a romantic song.  But it goes the same for any relationship, including that with God.  If we want our relationships to be better, then we begin with ourselves.

Lent starts March 5 which is a time set aside in the church year to “get closer” to God.  We do this in any number of intentional ways such as Bible study, prayer time, fasting (i.e. giving up chocolate), service to others and special worship services.  Like in recent years past, St. Luke’s will participate in a Lenten guest speaker rotation.  This year the theme is simply “Lenten Thoughts.”  Each pastor has picked a topic and will reflect on this topic during worship on Sunday evenings.  A complete schedule is printed below.  Anyway, this is a great opportunity to get closer to God as we meditate on the thoughtful words of the preacher.

By the way, I think we usually hope that sometime during the six weeks of Lent we will somehow get a glimpse of "enlightenment" as if we have to work really hard to achieve spiritual awareness.  But it is not a difficult task to be with God.  God is as close as a whisper.  Jesus said, “seek and ye shall find!”  The chore is getting ourselves to be closer to God for six weeks straight without becoming distracted.  Hopefully by the time Easter arrives we will have formed a very good and healthy habit- staying close to God!

So this Lent, “Get closer!”  God is waiting.  Amen

      In Christ,

      Pastor Jeff

Join Us for

“LENTEN THOUGHTS”

A special series Sunday evenings during Lent featuring guest preachers from our Lutheran community!

A lite meal will be served at 6 PM

The Holden Evening Prayer Service is at 7 PM.

 

   Guest preachers:

 

March 9            Pastor Scott Bollinger, Mt. Zion Lutheran Church

"Renewal:  It's God's Business" (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

 

March 16          Pastor Paul Christ, Messiah Lutheran Church

"Lent:  Fasting or Feasting" (Isaiah 58:3-7)

 

March 23          Pastor Dan Duke, Bethany Lutheran Church

   "Lenten Thoughts on the Parable of the Prodigal Son" (Luke 15:11-32)

 

March 30          Pastor Rich Hites, St. Stephens Lutheran Church

     "Our Lenten Journey to Become the Prodigal Father" (Luke 15:11-32)

 

April 6              Pastor Andrew Bell, Unity Lutheran Church

      “Freed from Fear: Jesus' Command and Promise" (Matthew 6:25-34)

 

 




December 3, 2012, 9:39 AM

Advent


Do you have your Advent decorations up with everything decked out in blue?   This would be an odd sight compared to the other houses around town made up in red, green, silver and gold.  But at St. Luke’s we do try and keep the church adornments blue and true during this short but very meaningful season.

      Advent after all is about anticipation.  The Sunday morning lessons are filled with anticipation for good things to come.  Oh sure it looks to the coming of Christmas Day, the high festival where we celebrate our savior’s birth.  But Advent also looks to the future for a time where joy, hope and peace will be the order for the day.  It boasts of a time when all the darkness, depression, oppression and suffering will be no more.  It longs for the fullness of Christ Jesus! 

      Ever wonder why when we read a story or see a movie, we want it to end well?  Consider this, movie studios often show their films to “test audiences” before releasing them to the big screen.  Many times the ending will be changed based on the audience’s reaction.  This happened with the love story “Sweet Home Alabama” where the main characters were originally struck by lightning and died at the end!  Needless to say this didn’t go over well.  So they changed it to where the much beloved characters lived happily ever after.

      Advent is the promise of that “Happy Ending” for us as God’s people.  But Advent also teaches us that it is worth waiting for!  Knowing what “is to come” gives us strength to face the difficulties of today.

      So go ahead, pull out those blue ribbons, wreaths and decorations and display them proudly as we relish this Advent season!

God’s blessings,

Pastor Jeff




August 7, 2012, 12:06 PM

What do you do with Bread?


I love me some good bread, especially when it is freshly baked!  A beautiful, steaming hot loaf is pleasing to the eyes, nose and taste buds.  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

But when Jesus says stuff like  "I am the Bread of Life" and "I am the true bread from heaven" it can be a little confusing.  The Gospel lessons this month are from the 6th chapter of John and that is exactly what we hear.  So does he mean to be served up with a good bottle of wine?

Well, the scriptures always beg us to look closer.  When Jesus says these things, he is in conversation with disciples who are hungry and looking to fill their stomachs.   They were part of the 5000 whom Jesus fed with the loaves and fishes.  Now they are following him but for the wrong reason.  So Jesus is trying to move them from being hungry, wondering disciples to that of being disciples who understand they have something incredible to share.  And that something incredible is "the true bread form heaven!"

It is a shift we are all called to make as we mature in our faith.  Instead of saying "feed me!"  Instead of asking "when will my suffering end?"  Instead of complaining that "we don't have anything," we grow to be people who say, "come see what we have!"  We learn to say, "come experience bread like no other!"  We begin to share our given bread that is God's abundant love in Christ. 

God indeed has always given us more than we ask for.  We ask for bread and Jesus says, you want bread do you?  Well I'll give you bread- bread you will never forget!  We ask for something to eat and he gives us himself.  He gives himself totally to the world and we need not ever be hungry again!

Like I said, I love me some good bread!

God's blessings,

Pastor Jeff

 

 




July 25, 2012, 10:49 AM

Theology of the Cross!


I don't know about you but I remember nearly every mistake I've ever made, every dumb or hurtful thing I've ever said to anyone and every time I've not done what I should have.  Call it Lutheran guilt or just a bad complex, it weighs heavy on me sometimes.  I know I've done a lot of good things.  But the dark, anxious, lazy, selfish side of myself is what I seem to frequently dwell on. 

Martin Luther had a similar problem, never feeling "good enough" for God. Then he realized that he will NEVER be good enough.  And that's likely when the "Theology of the Cross" was born.  Or at least that's when it seems he made the connection. Theology of the cross asks the question, just what is Jesus accomplishing up there hanging on the cross for our sake any way.  Now this may be impossible to answer fully.  But if he is there to bare our sins, which he is.  And he if he descends into death only for our behalf, which he does.  And he proves in the resurrection that he came to give only life and not condemnation, which happened.  Then what is left for us to do except have nothing but hope?  There is no longer need for doubt or fear or self loathing!

The first speaker for the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans said it probably the best I've ever heard.  Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber put it something like this, "This is a God who from the cross didn't even lift a finger to condemn the enemy.  But who instead said 'I would rather die than be in the sin accounting business any more!'"  I just love this!  This is the good news of the cross.  And it is good news for me.  It reminded me that when I gaze upon that wonderfully strange cross of Jesus that when he looks at me, he does not see or even care about all those mistakes I've made, the times I've turned away from him, the times I failed to serve or to help someone.  He simply sees his child through nothing but eyes of love.

Now that's a good starting place for the day.  It takes away my excuse to dwell on my weakness and inadequacies.  And it takes away my pitiful excuses to not have hope and to not be good enough to serve.  Basically it reminds me to get over myself and my perceived problems and remember that the God who created everything including me, holds me firmly close- But who also says, go and share my love.

So that's my point of view for today!  God's blessings to you as you "survey the wondrous cross!"

Peace of Christ,

Pastor Jeff


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